Public operations will resume at Richmond Vale Railway Museum this weekend, five months since a bushfire devastated the historic site.
A reunion for veterans of the Richmond Main Colliery will be held at the site on Saturday, before it reopens to the public on Sunday.
The reunion was planned for last year in honour of the fiftieth anniversary of the cessation of coal shipping from the colliery in 1967, but had to be postponed in the aftermath of the September bushfire.
“We wish to give the Richi veterans the opportunity to visit the site, see the effects of the bushfire and other events on the property, and be able to share in reminiscences of their time at the colliery or on the railway,” said museum board member Graham Harper, who is coordinating the reunion.
“The museum is anxious to record the memories of these men, before they are no longer able to share them.”
The reunion will start at 10am, with a free barbecue lunch provided for veterans on the day.
RSVP is essential for catering purposes. Anyone wishing to attend is asked to call Graham on 0434 015 149.
Except for a limited reopening for its Santa Special Day in November, the museum has been closed since the 800-hectare bushfire on September 13 caused caused $1 million worth of damage to the railway track and historic rollingstock.
Volunteers have been working with Cessnock City Council and members of the railway fraternity over the past few months to get the bring the museum back on track.
“We’ve had tremendous support from our volunteers, members of the public, kindred societies and railway professionals,” museum chairman Peter Meddows said.
“We are particularly grateful to significant companies in the railway engineering field, who have donated resources and labour to ensure that our museum can reopen for rail operations.
“We still have a way to go, with a major bridge repair yet to be funded, but being able to run trains on our Mulbring Road branch demonstrates that we will continue the rebuilding process.”
Gates will open at 9.30am Sunday.
The museum’s normal operating hours will then resume – open for the first three Sundays of the month, and school holiday Sundays.